The greatest black pudding maker in the history of Barnsley and all of Yorkshire was the legendary Albert Hirst. He was a big man with a big appetite for black pudding and ate a couple of slices of it for breakfast every day. Born in 1910, Albert was not only famous for his black pudding but also for his pork pies and Barnsley chops.
When asked about the Barnsley chop, Albert would present the enquirer with a card which stated
Food fit for a king. Barnsley chops, supplied for luncheon at the opening of the Town Hall by HRH the Prince of Wales in 1933 by Albert Hirst.
Albert regularly declared black pudding to be “the caviar of the north” and swore it was good for anaemia; saying “stands to reason, they’re made from blood”.
It was Margaret Thatcher who signalled the end for Albert and his business. The shops closed in 1984 when the firm was forced into liquidation during the miner’s strike and Albert died the same year. Albert’s life, death and black pudding were commemorated in a poem by William Logan entitled “The King of Black Pudding”.
In the dusty and blood-soaked shop he could not reason the declining regard
for the blood sausage and Barnsley chop
hacked from Southdown sheep, two chops per sheep,
the Barnsley chops the Prince of Wales could not complete
three years before his abdication.
Albert Hirst did not complain.
A purveyor of pudding must know his station,
but no matrix or linear algebra could calculate
a value for the caviar of the north, curse of anaemia.
Each morning he swallowed a slice or two, to qualify his ware.
Though his manner was very precise, on his ribs reposed a weight
one likes to see on a butcher or a pig at the slaughterer’s gate.
The pigs despite their brooding
cannot serve as pallbearers for the king of black pudding.
Albert’s black pudding recipe survived him and in 1997 his pudding won a gold medal at Mortagne-au-Perche, where he had been competing since the early 1960s.